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How to improve your immune system and generate greater well being with movement and exercise

health real life Apr 01, 2020

We already found that the immune system responds to what we eat and drink.
This video examines what effects movement and exercise have on the body.

We know that all tissues of our body respond to challenges, let’s call them stress, by strengthening. That holds true for our muscles as well as our immune system.

Overall, exercise and movement helps us build a more robust immune system and reduce influenza related mortality. [1], [2]

For this video I’d like to distinguish between movement and exercise.
movement is limbering up, removing stagnation from otherwise inactive parts of the body. This would include, for example: walking, gentle stretching and most breathing exercises.
exercise on the other hand involves a degree of exertion. And it’s at the exertion point where the role of the immune system becomes interesting.

But let’s return to movement first.
Circulating air through our lungs and pumping blood to all areas of our body is helpful for immunity.
Remember, the white blood cells are an important part of your immune system. We need to allow them to freely move and have access where they need to go.
Similarly, bringing fresh air into all parts of the lungs removes old and stagnant air, as well as any bacteria that might have accumulated. Breathing fully is excellent for prevention of risk for pneumonia.

Now to the exercise part:
Moderate exercise or short bursts of exercise boost a healthy immune response. Low or moderate exercise increases the white blood cell activity that act as antibacterial and antiviral agents.
We’re stressing the system in a measured way and get a physiologically healthy response.

Additionally, exercise can slightly raise our body temperature temporarily. This creates  an increased responsiveness of the immune system. [3]

But here’s the catch:
How much exercise is enough and how much is too much?
The tricky answer is: It depends.

Generally this is about what we call fitness: Your ability to recover after being placed under strain. Or from a yoga perspective, your ability to not be unduly stressed when under strain.

Here are the two ends of the scale:
-    no exercise - no improved immune response
-    too much exercise - depressed immune system in the short term [2]
This immune depression happens within the recovery phase after exercise. During that phase our immune system is busy mopping up exercise effects and micro injuries. which leaves our virus fighting ability a little short changed.
High performance athletes, for example have depressed immune systems after intensive training or competitions. [4]

How much is right for us then? About 60% of our maximum seems to hit a good spot. That’s for short term exercise.
As with everything else, your ability to handle exercise stress, how to body responds and repairs, is trainable. For our purposes, the key is not to overdo it.

One last point: If at all possible, choose to do your exercise and movement outdoors. Exposure to sunlight lets your body produce Vitamin D. And Vitamin D is another helpful ingredient of a healthy immune system.[5]

So, please breathe to ventilate your lungs fully, stretch and move to maintain healthy circulation to all your tissues and consider exercise up to 60% of your current maximum to keep your immune system responsive.

Hope this helps The next blog on this topic  will take a look at vitamins, minerals and  the real reason for loss of sense of smell.


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